Website Design For Interior Designers
Since I just returned from the Web Excellence Awards for David Shepherd’s Designing Profits seminar in Las Vegas, I thought it might be helpful to all of you to know what criteria we used to judge the winners.
There were some excellent entries, and all of us as judges congratulate all of you who were honored with an award. Lance Haeberle, the Founder of Studio IT which is accounting software for interior design firms, presented the awards and provided several useful tips to improve your websites.
This is a list of the criteria we used to evaluate your entries:
Visual Presentation – 40%
- HTML vs. Flash
- Simple and Inviting
- Professional and Stimulating
Content – 40%
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Email Registration
- What’s New
- Client Specifc Content (Client Login)
- Current and Dynamic Content
Navigation – 20%
- User Friendly
Here is where we saw challenges for some of you in your entries:
- Flash takes too long to load and the visitors leave quickly
- Flash is expensive to modify, so it is difficult to update your content
- It is ideal if you have the ability to update your content and add pictures frequently
- Cluttered or busy websites – should have one focal point per page
- Your prospects and clients need a way to interact with you or contact you – some sites weren’t as user-friendly. One site actually had a form that the prospect could fill out to pare-qualify them. If your visitor actually fills it out, you have a warm prospect, so this is well worth doing.
It is virtually impossible to cover all of the elements of web design in one blog post, but if you don’t have a website yet, let me know if you are interested in a class on this subject. After setting up multiple websites, we can definitely share some tips with you.
Here are a few other details you need to know about:
- The “Contact Us” and “About Us” pages are extremely important to your “quality score” from Google. Add to that list the XML Site List which is basically a blueprint for your site.
- You need to use “keywords” that relate to your site in your Meta Tags and through your body copy on your “home page” which is the first page your visitors see. You need to have enough of a percentage of the keywords so that when someone searches for “interior designer Seattle” that they find you because of your keywords in your home page.
- Be sparing with flash because if it takes too much time to load, your visitors will definitely leave and you will miss that potential client.
- Tell your prospects what is in it for them. If you spend your whole time talking about you, your prospects will not be interested.
- If you add music to your site, give them a way to turn it off. Some people will click out if they are at work and the music starts blaring.
- Add testimonials, and if you can get an audio or video testimonial, it is even better. This helps with “social proof” which is a powerful technique to influence your prospects if it is someone they feel is “on their level.”
- Make sure your navigation is clear and easy. Across the top or to the left is the best option, and be sure it stays in the same location. There is a way to add drop down menus under main headings, so you want to discuss that with your webmaster.
- Hire someone who has worked with interior designers or architects to help you with your web design. It is much better if your webmaster understands our industry.
- Use professional photography. You can use befores that are your own photos, but again, the better the quality of the work you show, the better the perception is of your skills.
- No typos. It is critical that you have someone proof the site to make sure you don’t have typos. It is a turn-off for people that are looking for your services to see typos or even poor grammar.
- Allow several months to create your website. It will take a significant amount of time to get all of the material together for your webmaster.
- Make a list of the websites you like and don’t like for your webmaster. This will help them design your site more efficiently.
- If you have likes and dislikes, be sure to share that, too. You are now the client, so you should get what you want because you will be paying for it.
- Make sure you define the size and structure of your site and get a price before proceeding. It can be extremely costly to change your format after you start developing your site.
- Learn about basic website structure by looking at competitor’s sites. H1, H2 tags are important and should contain keywords such as “interior design,” so be sure you understand what that means.
- Send all of your files at one time to your webmaster. Sending multiple files on multiple days is inefficient for you and the webmaster.
- When you discuss web development with the webmaster, find out what kind of programming they use, and ask if you can edit your own content once the site is launched. It is important to consider this before you start the development.
- Colors you want to use may not be “web friendly,” so you want to look at the palettes that are online to select your colors. Doing custom colors is possible, but they may not translate to your website.
- Check your website in multiple Internet browsers such as Google, Yahoo and Firefox to see how it looks prior to launch. Even the colors can look different in the different browsers. Also, the page looks different as well.
- Be sure to have your company name clickable so your visitors can easily return to the home page.
- Include a head shot and biography of each of your staff members. It makes your site more “friendly” and helps your prospects get to know you before calling you.
- If you are featured in books or magazines, be sure to add that to your “Press” tab. Ask the publications if you can use the image of their magazine or book. Some do charge to do that, and it is not inexpensive.
- Add “Alt Tags” to your photos that include descriptions of the room (or your staff’s name) that include keywords. The search engines do index photos separately.
- Using video, podcasts or audio on your site is extremely good. This adds the auditory and visual elements that make your site more interesting to visitors.
- If you offer a newsletter, do have an “opt-in” box on your site to capture the visitor’s name and address.
- Be sure to have a blog and include a tab for it or even as we have on our site, a headline summary of the blog posts on the front page. This freshens your content and the search engines will rank you more highly if you update your site frequently. We change things on our site many times per week, so that helps us in the searches.
- Email your clients if you have a new project on your site. This keeps them connected to you. Use this as a tool to ask for referrals or even testimonials.
- If you have a free report or tips you can offer to anyone that is considering hiring an interior designer, be sure to add that to your site. People love freebies.
Let me know your thoughts or questions about websites. You will find that it is easier to start with a blog if you don’t have any Internet presence. We will be starting a new Blogging 101 class in early November.
Gail Doby, ASID is a professional interior designer with over 20 years of interior design experience in luxury new construction and renovation design. She is now focusing her attention on helping interior designers learn the critical success factors that will help them make more money in this fascinating field. For more information, please use the “Contact Us” tab to send a message. We welcome your comments and we appreciate it when you “Share This” with others by clicking the green icon below. This actually helps you build traffic to your site at the same time.